The Best Laid Plans… « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

The Best Laid Plans...

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This is the new Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II Super-telephoto lens that I will be taking on my Falklands, South Georgia, Antarctica cruise.

The Best Laid Plans…

Last week I had BAA Account/Executive Director/daughter (not necessarily in that order) Jennifer send a check to Canon for my new 400mm f/2.8L IS lens. They were told that there was one on the way with my name on it. Several days later when the lens had not arrived I e-mailed and learned that the expected shipment had not materialized. So it was back to square one. Though time was very short I considered borrowing a 500mm f/4L IS lens–the old version–from Canon Professional Services but I went back to my list and decided to try to get the new 300mm f/2.8L IS lens…. It would prove to be very versatile and I am anxious to see how the Series II super-telephoto lenses work with the Series III teleconverters….

B&H did not have one in stock. That ruled out buying it from them. Since Canon Professional Services (CPS) did not have any 400 f/2.8L IS II lenses to loan I assumed that they did not have a 300 f/2.8L IS II either. So, when I was still at my Mom’s on Long Island, I went online to try to buy one. I found one in stock on Amazon (through a somewhat fishy third party), put it in my basket, entered my credit card info, and selected “expedited shipping.” Unexpectedly it said, “Delivery expected December 23-28, 2011…. So I cancelled my order.

The next morning on the way home from Orlando International Airport my cell phone rang. It was Paul from CPS asking if someone would be home the next day to receive the gear that I had loaned for my Antarctica trip, a Canon EOS_-D Mark II and a 16-35mm IS L II zoom lens. I said “Yes,” and continued with my tale of long lens woe. “Hold on,” he said, “I’ll be right back.” In a moment he returned saying, “I have a 300mm f/2.8L IS II lens here and will include it right now with the shipment that you will get tomorrow.”

That was a very nice holiday present. I spent this morning micro-adjusting the lens with both of my bodies with both the 1.4X III and the 2X III TCs. The results were amazingly consistent with my micro-adjustments ranging only from -3 to +2. (I have come up with a fast, new, easy way to micro-adjust without having to tether your camera to a laptop. I will be sharing the “Non-Tethered Micro-Adjusting Tutorial” with you at some point.) See here for Lens Align Mark II info and the original Micro-Adjusting Tutorial.

After I finished micro-adjusting I took a few hand held images with the new 300 f/2.8 II and the 2X III TC: tree trunks, some leaves, and a few tight details of of my home. Wow. Though I was working at relatively slow shutter speeds, averaging about 1/320 sec., the images were screamingly sharp. I can wait to get down there. Though offering a bit less magnification at the long end most of the birds and wildlife we will be working with are exceeding tame so I should be fine for the most part. I will get to try out both Series III TCs with a Series II super-telephoto lens, and I will be saving 3.3 pounds to boot. Not to mention saving more than $12,000! I leave for the airport tomorrow–12/28/2011–after lunch. Till then….

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Canon 300mm f/2.8L IS II. The new 300 f/2.8 is only a bit lighter than the previous version but it features 4-stop IS and promises to work superbly well with both Series III TCs. And as I learned this morning it is–as expected–super-sharp. B&H should be getting a few in stock fairly soon; place your order now and your card will not be charged until the item is shipped. You will be seeing lots of images made with this lens when I get back (unless I drop it in the ocean….)

Canon 2X III teleconverter. Noticeably sharper than the 2X II TC this new extender is designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.
Canon 1.4X III Teleconverter. Designed to work best with the new Series II super-telephoto lenses.

10 comments to The Best Laid Plans…

  • I recently found the 600f/4/1.4X combo and its inability to focus in extremely bright light with a dark subject in the frame an interesting mechanical inconvenience worth noting with the tutorial message to Doug S. The bright light source was the reflection of the setting sun in water.

    All camera systems will have trouble AF-ing when you point them into super-bright light; simply focus manually in those situations. In soft light large areas of black or white can be problematic for AF as the system needs contrast as well as light. artie

  • Allan Warner

    Not having $12,000 to toss about, I probably would have taken my 400 DO, both extenders, my 7 D and my 1 D IV and somehow managed to get by. As you have written, 7 D and 400 DO are a “deadly combination” for birds in flight, and for my purposes 400 DO is sharp enough, with maybe a slight tweek of contrast later. To get to 400 + mm with 300 mm f 2.8 lens and a converter, one is back at f 4. With today’s in-camera processors and some degree of post-processing noise reduction, higher ISO use is becoming almost the norm and wouod help with my combination.

  • Eric Thomson

    Great shooting and safe travels to you Artie. I have seen some wonderfully sharp raptor in flight images from the precursor of this new lens. I expect you will get amazing results.

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Eric, As its predecessor, the lens is super sharp. I did not have a lot of flight opportunities on the trip but will be bringing the 300 II to Japan; we will be enjoying lots of great flight photography there….

  • I know you will create some fantastic images and I can’t wait to see them. Safe travels and have fun!

  • Bob Allen

    And after you return, send that lens out here to southern California so I can try it too ;7) I’ve been studying that one, though my finances say, “dream on.”
    Safe and productive trip, Artie!

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Bug Bob, As you know by now, I had a great trip and the lens turned out to be perfect for the journey.

  • Doug Schurman

    It’s great to hear CPS came through for you. I’d love to hear how the focussing speed is on the 300II with the 2X III TC especialy for bird in flight. I have read that the lens slows down focusing pretty noticably with the new 2X attached. This is a lens that I would like to purchase for my wife this next year. Have a great trip.

    The world’s best raptor photographers use the 300f/2.8/1.4X combo as their first choice for speeding birds in flight. That said, folks need to understand that whenever you add a TC to the mix the AF system loses light. One stop with the 1.4X, two stops with the 2X. Since AF needs light (and contrast) to function, AF will always be slower with a TC than without. And it will always focus a bit slower with a 2X than with a 1.4X. Make sure that you are on far distance range and pre-focus manually and you (or your wife) will be just fine. Thanks for the good wishes. artie